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Teacher In-Service Day I
Mrs. Stone, fourth-grade teacher,
calls upon her Samurai power. A woman has to be a warrior to survive the education profession, and at age 67 Mrs. Stone has survived it the longest of anyone in this particular school cafeteria. She closes her inner eye to dream. Outwardly, an accommodating smile masks her discontent. A goofy smile, she knows. Mrs. Stone and fifty colleagues must endure the grueling in-service, principal’s orders – five dreadful hours of training, jargon, diagrams, acronyms, bulleted lists. Then, a change of pace, group activities for the easily amused. This is elementary education.
Mrs. Stone imagines herself in the third person:
There is a woman here who feels resentful, contrary, twitchy.
The Japanese knight problem-solved with such an exercise. He disengaged his mind from troublesome emotions. Then he could ask in a rational manner –
What is that woman to do?
Mrs. Stone observes her mental answer which is indulgent, which is to heft a Samurai sword, scream absurdly, disembowel an administrator, lead a ragtag revolt of rebel teachers.
No. Long experience confirms for Mrs. Stone that “rebel teacher” is an oxymoron. Most of her colleagues would fight each other to scoop guts back into the boss.
No. These days she is a realist. She will observe her situation with cool and remote clarity. Find a productive course of action. So what Mrs. Stone does is take a snapshot of herself and project it onto the wide-screen of her mind. There she is. Wave to the lady – a grumpy and bored old woman.
Robert Harris "A Meeting of the School Trustees"
Suddenly, without Mrs. Stone’s help, her question is stated aloud. It rings through the cinderblock room. “What's an educator to do?” a voice taunts her, rhetorically, theatrically.
Mrs. Stone opens her inner eye. It feels as if she has been jolted from sleep.
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